The verdicts of various election tribunals are being vehemently challenged by those they did not favour, especially members of the opposition PDP even as the incumbent Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, was sacked in favour of APC candidate, A’isha Jummai Alhassan, who was to be sworn-in immediately thereafter. However, the defeated governor has joined the bandwagon of other PDP stalwarts that rejected the tribunal judgment, heading to the Appeal Court, and may eventually seek justice at the country’s apex court.
It appears that Supreme Court is destined to play a very significant role in the making of governors in this country, particularly in Rivers state considering the possibilities of the ongoing legal battle between the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike and the defeated gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Chief Dakuku Peterside ending there. In October 2007, the Supreme Court ordered, in a landmark judgement, that Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, a gubernatorial aspirant said to have been blocked from partaking in the state’s gubernatorial primaries, be sworn-in as Governor of Rivers State in place of the incumbent whose contest in the general election was fraudulent. That was how God used the Supreme Court in paving the way for Ameachi’s eight- year occupation of River’s State Government House.
Now, eight years after that historic episode history is set to repeat itself, or another epoch making event is bound to occur which my sharply contradict the previous antecedent. Governor Nyesom Wike, the estranged bosom friend of Rotimi Amaechi is now warming up to prosecute the appeal against the Judgment of his state’s election tribunal which nullified his election and ordered a re-run within ninety days. He is determined to challenge the tribunal’s verdict at the Court of Appeal, and if its judgment was unfavourable to him, he will definitely proceed to the same court that assisted his friend, now turned his greatest foe, to hang on to power.
However, Governor Wike seems to be losing hope in the country’s judicial system which he so much relies on to save his neck. He has already begun to be pessimistic, blaming his rival and predecessor, Amaechi of having the Supreme Court, or even the entire Nigerian judiciary in his pocket. His political party, the PDP was also thinking in the same vein and is weighed in with different but harmful comments, accusing the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of hatching a grand plan to steal political offices from it through the instrumentality of the judiciary.
While the PDP and its functionaries could not be robbed of profound anxiety over losing electoral victories, they were probably the only ones who did not see the judicial proclamations coming. Nigerians will readily recall that the areas in which the victories were overturned actually witnessed unprecedented instances of violence and electoral irregularities during those elections. Amidst the uproar of election victories being overturned with losers threatening hell and brimstone, it is quite tempting to lose sight of a certain comforting fact: Nigeria Nigeria’s democracy is being rightly celebrated within and outside the country.
As the likes of Wike continue to engage in frivolous complaints over their dwindling electoral fortune, especially from elections widely acknowledged as flawed, everyone seems to be telling them to pause and appreciate the fact that the country’s democracy has now become a beacon of hope to its teeming citizens, especially those that had been despairing in the last six years.
That was why ex-president Jonathan was sent to Tanzania by President Buhari as head of observer mission to that country’s recent election. His role was widely acclaimed and Tanzanians held him in high esteem as the man who saved Nigeria’s democracy from going under during the most difficult election exercise ever conducted on its soil. At Tanzania, Mr Jonathan had turned himself into an advocate of peace and conduct of credible elections. He exhorted Tanzanians to emulate what he has done in Nigeria: that was to accept defeat in the spirit of sportsmanship. He pointed out that in any election there are bound to be winners and losers and the vanquished should gracefully concede to avert political crisis.
In that case why shouldn’t Jonathan’s party and political associates have moral and political credibility to accept the verdicts of election tribunals in good faith?
Even as the opposition candidate in Tanzania has out rightly rejected the results of the subsequent polls, Nigerian opposition should continue to cherish Jonathan’s admonishing which the good people of Tanzania captured on marble. Jonathan’s associates must learn a lesson or two from his worthy examples of giving peace a chance by accepting defeat when it had become a bitter pill for him to swallow. His good people must realise that just as they have unchallengeable right to embark on endless or fruitless litigation that could be counterproductive, they should also realise that ex-president Jonathan has every right to challenge the verdict of INEC on the presidential election he had woefully lost, or reject it at the risk of precipitating violence in the country. He had wisely rejected both options and is now comfortably treading on the path of honour.
It is therefore incumbent upon PDP stalwarts that contest verdicts of various electoral tribunals with the aim of causing chaos and uncertainty in the country, to realise that a democracy that operates in an insecure environment is certainly on its way to extinction. This is the real threat to Nigeria’s democracy that should occupy the minds of Wike and his ilk and not vain spirited efforts to hold on to the spoils of flawed elections by any means whatsoever, including reckless court actions.